How to card wool, a study in opposites

Spinning Tips—Or Not

In the DVD How to Card Wool: Four Spinners, Four Techniques, Carol Rhoades demonstrates her carding technique.

You know how there are about a trillion different ways to divide the world into opposing sides? Such as people who are night owls vs people who are early birds; people who eat the filling out of the Oreo first vs those who nibble around the edges; people who like to card wool vs people who flee at the sight of a pair of handcards.

Let's home in on those people who like to card wool and divide them into people who, having loaded their cards, put the two cards smack-dab together before stroking vs people who just catch the tips that are hanging off and work their way up the card on subsequent strokes. Know what I mean?

You'll often find these two species quite adamant about which is the "right" way, or at least the right way for them. It seems to boil down to whether you want your ultimate little rolag to be rolled up like a jellyroll, with just one homogeneous layer where all the fiber ends are sort of lined up or whether you want thinner layers of fibers, in more of a shingled configuration, before you roll them. (This is much easier to visualize with a pair of cards and some wool in your hands than trying to think of pastries and roofing jobs.)

In the DVD How to Card Wool: Four Spinners, Four Techniques, Maggie Casey demonstrates her carding technique.

The choices seem to hinge on how you're going to spin that rolag (semiworsted or woolen), how consistent you want your yarn to be (perfect perfect or a little slubby), or simply your aesthetic preference—do you love stroking those little wisps hanging off the end of your card, or not?

I have to confess, I'm one of those people who really doesn't much like to card. I love that there are mills that will do that for me. But I'm fascinated by the variety of ways to use those simple hand tools to manipulate a mass of fiber. Everything about spinning is like that, really—so many subtle variations in technique, from picking to carding or combing to twisting to plying to finishing. It's why spinners never get bored.

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